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PostTension Between EU and Neo-Nationalism (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 12/26/16 7:34 am)
The European Union has been a grand experiment. It is impressive that a large group of diverse national cultures were capable to find enough social political common ground to unite. Of course that would not be possible between the US and Mexico, because the social political disparities are just too great. Even in Europe, the disparities between some of the nations increasingly became difficult to surmount.
Now to address John E's question in response to Carmen Negrín, "Nationalism is the natural outcome of crises, and nationalist movements end badly... Has history ever proven otherwise?"
Nationalism is an emotion which like any emotion can be expressed in good or evil ways. It could be used as a panacea to temporarily solve crises through emotional outbursts. Most often it can be a useful tool for popular manipulation, which may lead to catastrophes like WWI and WWII, and countless other insane wars.
By itself nationalism is a useless concept, but it can sometimes be implemented into something useful for the benefit of the nation. People can be highly motivated to contribute more to their nation in a wide variety of ways. For example, I remember some 50 years ago "Ouro para o bem do Brazil." Amazingly, with extremely high nationalistic fervor, the Brazilian people were persuaded to shed their meager gold possessions (even wedding rings), and got into long lines to give them to the government at special locations surrounded by national flags and continuously playing patriotic songs. I was stunned by their fervor and stupidity, but could not express my opinion (no WAIS). I was sure the goddamned military dictators all had a cat smile, but could not see how would the popular sacrifice possibly benefit the nation? Ah, the beauty of nationalism and other imaginary "isms."
Unfortunately, most often some special interest promotes and hijacks nationalism for their own benefits. Thus we have countless wars where nations are completely destroyed or go bankrupt, soldiers go out as heroes and return as victims or dead, while weapons manufacturers, private contractors, etc. gorge themselves with profits.
JE comments: Precious metals drives usually happen in wartime. What was the justification for the Brazilian military government in the 1960s? One can assume that all that ouro went down the black hole of corruption.
Nationalism and Altruism; "Oro alla Patria"
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
12/27/16 4:53 AM)
I usually admire the posts of Tor Guimaraes, but I have a different view of his comment of 26 December. I hope Tor will forgive me.
Nationalism is a form of altruism. One is a member of a nation if she/he is ready to sacrifice something, even her/his life. But the nation is something much larger than the family or the tribe.
As the Italian historian William Klinger (Fiume 1972, killed in New York in 2015), famous for denouncing the horrible crimes of Tito, wrote: nationalism is born from the nation which itself is originated by the homogeneity/union of a population.
Has the nation always existed, or is it formed by institutions?
If it is always existed, it means that the union/homogeneity is biological (Hitler's concept of the German nation). If instead it is created by an institution or an idea, it is mainly cultural (the present USA).
Italy may be in between. Clearly it has something biological, but I would say that it is cultural too.
For instance in 1930s from Malta, Corsica, Nice, Dalmatia (later even from the Serbs of Krajna) and from Canton Ticino, many peoples were feeling Italian sentiments because they were fascinated by the progress of Fascist Italy. Of course, now in such territories it is not easy to find the same sentiments, only few indestructibles remain.
The Europeans, 40 or so years ago, believed in the "Great European Nation," but the politicians and the bureaucrats of Brussels, lackeys of the Empire, have frustrated the various peoples, who inevitably are going back to their original nations. But the European dream is not dead; with a great change it can revive.
Nationalism does not always end badly. Quite often it ends building a state, giving dignity to the people. See Poland, Italy, Germany in 1870, etc.
I would reverse Tor's sentence:
"By itself nationalism is a useless concept, but it can sometimes be implemented into something useful for the benefit of the nation."
I would write instead: "By itself nationalism is a powerful concept, but it can sometimes be turned into something harmful to the nation."
Italy too had its "Oro alla Patria," on 15 December 1935, mostly wedding rings but also medals, bracelets, a Nobel Prize medal (Luigi Pirandello), etc., as a reaction to the sanctions for the Abyssinian war. No money was lost. Some partisans reported that some gold wedding rings were found in the luggage of Fascist gerarcas, but the gold was never shown. In total, 37 tons of gold and 115 tons of silver were collected, and it went to the State mint. The iron wedding ring given in exchange has the date 18 November 1935, date of the sanctions. These rings are now available on eBay at 29.99 euros. My mother's was stolen, the one of my father was lost when he was a POW and I am devastated by this.
Of course the Abyssinian war, with our present ideologies is very debatable, but how could two colonial Empires (British and French) tell Italy that it was doing something wrong? It is the same old story of the man who has a beam in his eye but notices only the small straw in the eye of another.
JE comments: I found this article about how in 1936, 100 Italian-American women in Hartford, Connecticut were convinced by their priest to donate their gold rings to the cause. There must have been several thousand bands collected in the United States and sent to Italy.
The above also has a great photo of the iron "Oro alla Patria" ring.